Supreme Shenanigans: The Arizona Supreme Court visits Prescott

By Alexandre DuBroy

Last Tuesday, on a pleasantly brisk morning, the Arizona Supreme Court made their way from the state capital to the hamlet of Prescott. The court was in full session and heard an actual case from lawyers representing both sides. The court came to Prescott for community outreach but also for education. Several hundred local students and community members came to watch the proceedings of the court, including several dozen TCP students.

The issue at hand was that of an appealed rape case. However, by the time the case reached the Supreme Court, the specifics of the case were less important and the “nitty-gritty” aspects of the law were argued. Such cases often stem from ambiguity in the law and how it should be enforced. The case dealt with a specific law giving the parent/guardian of a minor child “victim’ rights on behalf of the victim.”

What this meant for the case before the court was whether or not the victim’s mother could invoke the statute after the victim had turned eighteen and still refuse an interview by the defense.

Both sides had twenty minutes to make oral arguments. However, they were subject to fierce grilling by the panel of five justices. Justice Robert Brutinel summed up this period of the trial by saying, “I don’t think lawyers win on oral argument – sometimes, you lose.” Lawyers had previous opportunities to present their points in a written brief submitted to the court before the oral argument period.

Tri-City students in Civics and previous Mock Trial participants had the opportunity to see the court in session. Dr. Halvorson and Ms. Amadio came along as chaperones and advisors/teachers for the respective classes. Ms. Amadio teaches Civics, and Dr. Halvorson has watched over Mock Trial for some years.

Amanda Bertsch, a sophomore and Mock Trial student said, “The court case was intriguing and complex, but I think our discussion on the van ride back to TCP was even more interesting.”

Bertsch refers to the rousing discussion that several Mock Trial members, Civics students, and Dr. Halvorson got into. Their discussion covered the points of the case, the issues at hand, and provided good practice for Mock Trial students and food for thought to the Civics students.

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